When warm weather and smoke plagues Southern Montana during the late summer there is only one thing to do, find some cool clean water, cooler air and clear skies. That’s exactly what we did.
This past week my colleague Ryan and I headed to the northern part of the state just outside of Whitefish, Montana. On the way up north we stopped at Tamarack Brewing in the wonderful town of Missoula to grab a cold beer and a bite to eat for lunch. The food and beer were both prompt and very good, afterwards we took a few minutes to stroll around the downtown area before continuing on.
We ended up having to change plans at the last minute after learning that the campground we initially intended to stay at was chock full. Instead, we ended up camping on the southwestern side of Flathead Lake. The sunsets on Flathead lake are absolutely out of this world and are truly something everyone headed north should take in.
The next day we continued on with our original itinerary, making our way through Kalispell and then Whitefish, on to the Hungry Horse Reservoir. As we suspected might happen, we were able to dodge the hot smoky skies that were currently plaguing the rest of the state. It was a beautiful day, clear skies and 76° with little to no humidity and a slight breeze.
The road going into and paralleling Hungry Horse is all gravel, 60+ miles long and seemingly endless. You can take either the East Side Road or the West Side Road to access the area. Both are beautiful and moderately trafficked during the summer. Two very important things to note are the lack of amenities and the pack outfitters that drive the road at 60mph. Make sure to get gas and anything else needed before venturing in, and during the trip in go slow and be mindful of those that aren’t.
The reservoir was absolutely stunning; I recounted to Ryan later on that the area was one of the most breathtaking and spectacular places I’ve ever had the privilege of laying my eyes on. It is a great place for those looking for glamping or car camping but not wanting to fight the crowds in the park while still having amazing surroundings. It is also a great place for all kinds of watersports and activities.
We rounded out our trip camping remotely in the backcountry for two nights, balancing our time between fishing, hiking and exploring; we both agreed it was one of the best trips of the summer. This is one you should absolutely put on the list!